SAFETY HARBOR — After a year of construction and two shutdowns, the Safety Harbor Public Library will reopen on Monday — a month ahead of schedule.
But it's not soon enough for some patrons.
"People have been coming up to the windows and peeking in,'' said library director Lana Bullian. "We see noses on the window.''
The $5.3 million expansion project, which forced the facility to close in October and March, added 9,300 square feet to the 15,000-square-foot building, and strengthened the south end so it can now support a second story if city leaders choose to build one in the future.
As visitors enter through the automated glass doors and into the enclosed rotunda, they will be greeted by high ceilings, lounge chairs in earth tone colors, cafe tables and a semicircle of the latest releases.
"It's the casual seating section,'' Bullian said. "We will not be shushing people in that area.''
To the right is a wide hallway covered with paintings leading to a meeting room and a large public conference room with a capacity for 125 people. There also is a deaf services center and the children's story hour area featuring a colorful mural of a grand oak by artist Zoran Peshich.
Connected to that is the children's library with stuffed animals, books, educational toys and five computers at child-size desks.
Beyond that, near the teen zone, are four study rooms, a rack with magazines such as Seventeen and Cycleworld.
There also is an audio visual area where patrons can try out a DVD, CD or a book on tape before they bring it home.
In the business resource wing, adults will find newspapers and other materials. There are also rows of computers and a fax machine, a scanner and a printer.
"Now more than ever people need computers if they need to write their resumes,'' Bullian said.
Toward the back of the library is a quiet nonfiction and fiction area with huge windows overlooking a park setting.
Visitors will notice that some of the book rack ends have graceful carvings of oak trees by local woodworker Stacy Roth.
"I wanted the outside in,'' Bullian said. "We have such a beautiful location here.''
New conveniences include self checkout and a covered drive-up book drop.
A manned coffee cart is still under consideration.
"It looks fabulous,'' said Linda Marshall, a member of the Safety Harbor Library Foundation board. "It's huge. It's just really wonderful use of the space. I think when people walk through the door they'll be speechless. It's just such a transformation.''
Eileen Schulte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4153.